A consulting and leadership skills workshop was officially launched yesterday at Elisa conference center at Sogi.
The two-day conference is facilitated by the Business Link Pacific (BLP) which is a programme funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Participants included representatives from Events Marketing and Distribution, Small Business Enterprise Center (S.B.E.C.), South Pacific Business Development (S.P.B.D.), and the Samoa Chamber of Commerce.
New Zealand’s acting High Commissioner to Samoa, Michael Walsh, said in his keynote address that the workshop will assist service providers as their personnel will be upskilled to assist small businesses.
“The significance is that Samoa and all other countries need strong probable medium enterprises, we know that for most countries they account for more than 80 per cent of businesses, and every economy needs a vibrant business,” he said.
The ultimate goal of an enterprise is to expand in size, the diplomat added, and Samoa needs more businesses expanding.
“This workshop is all about assisting service providers, the workshop will upskill how they will assist the small businesses in terms of financial planning etc.,” he added.
BLP deputy director, Paul Wendland, said it would be good to see local businesses access more services as they grow.
“We want them to realise their potential, have access to the same sort of finance, same good business advice, and for the market dynamic to work."
“We want businesses to not need BLP – that the advisors here see the SME market as a real opportunity – that advisory services for SMEs are vibrant, growing of high quality and affordable,” he added.
Affordability is key for a lot of businesses, according to Mr. Wendland, as people can be intimidated getting advice on taxes and compliance issues from bigger firms.
“We did a survey of SMEs throughout the Pacific – and in each country we work in – some of the key findings were that SMEs don’t know what services are available. They don’t know where to access them, and they perceive them to be too expensive. “Whether that’s true or not – we need to overcome those perceptions – we need to overcomes those market failures and really open that up for small business,” he added.
The two-day workshop is the first to be held in the region and they target five to 50 employees.
Samoa Chamber of Commerce CEO, Lemauga Hobart Vaai, said they are happy to facilitate as the workshop offers more opportunities and tools to support SME growth in Samoa.
BLP first established in Samoa last year and operates in 4 countries and has over 30 partners.